OCEAN PARK, Wash. (KOIN 6) — Just one day after beach goers watched a seal give birth on a white, sandy Washington beach, the mother seal was discovered bloodied and her newborn nowhere to be found.
Sunday evening, a perimeter of cautionary signs surrounded the mother and her pup. But when a volunteer showed up around 7:30 a.m. the next day, investigators say he stumbled upon a gruesome scene: double-tired truck tracks leading right up to the mother seal, left suffering and without a tail.
Federal wildlife enforcement officers suspect the truck ran over the seal, cutting off the appendage. They also believe someone did it intentionally.
Investigators fear the worst for the mother’s 1-day-old offspring.
“It is unlikely the pup would survive,” said Dr. Deborah Duffield, a Marine Biologist at Portland State University.
Duffield was called to Peninsula Beach in Ocean Park, Wash., where the incident occurred, Friday.
“It’s very difficult to handle,” said Marine Stranding Network’s Keith Chandler. “To have something so cool turn so bad.”
“I don’t know how it could have been unintentional, because there were signs they would have had to go through,” he said.
Wildlife officers say it appears the water was far away enough that the pup was likely not swept out to sea and it likely would not have left it’s mother on its own.
Marine mammals are federally protected. However, driving on the sand is legal in the area, but only in designated areas — each count of intentionally killing a marine mammal brings about a fine of $20,000 and a maximum prison sentence of five years.